Whatever you were doing at 2am Eastern Standard Time on 29 June 2019, you should have stopped, packed a bag and caught a plane, boat or bummed a ride on a jet ski and headed to Dania Beach, Fort Lauderdale to witness one of the eight wonders of the world – Kes the Band, in true paraíso. People were still talking about last year’s Kes on the Beach, where the Trinbago musical maestros mashed up Fort Lauderdale with their unique island fusions, and it was time for another Kes the Band concert.
For the past few months, Instagram and Twitter were lit as everyone geared up for this year’s event at Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park in South Florida (SoFlo), inches away from the cooling Florida sea. The venue was an oasis of over 2000 bodies, between General Admission and the VIP area. No island or body was left behind as the DJs teased us with tune after tune from the 1990s and 2000s. Our bodies and brains were treated to a musical appetiser of sweet soca from across the Caribbean, including Trinidad, Barbados and the Cayman Islands … and if you couldn’t get enough wine, wukup and congaline then came the dub and reggae session for the music that never dies, in came the sounds of Buju, Beenie, Beres, Bounty and more – somehow we never forget how to bogle and signal di plane – followed by a sprinkling of Afrobeats.
It was a long warm up, reminiscent of our long walks in Poison Mas Band through the winding streets of Port of Spain on Carnival Monday: riddim, hips, destination Garrison Savannah. Amidst the strobe lights, waving flags and neon glow sticks, the crowd was getting restless, fans were out as the temperature was rising from the sea of moving bodies. We saw the band setting up (minus Kes), and everyone was whispering, “Where is Kes?” – and just when it looked like the Savannah Grass (man) was not in sight….
…we touchdown with the 2019 Carnival hit Savanah Grass. The long anticipated Kes with the Band hit the stage with the signature tune and side jumps (can you teach me to jump like that Kes?). Introduced by the Essence writer Vanessa James, best known for her recent Ode to Carnival articles, Kes and the crew were high energy from start to finish.
All phones were up to film the spectacular Kees (lead vocals), Hans (drums), Jon (guitar), and Riad (bass guitar) live and in HD Stereo as they captivated us with tune upon tune from their musical portfolio of soca, calypso, reggae and pop. With impeccable delivery from every note, Kes proved beyond a shadow of doubt why they have been called the premier Caribbean band since they ignited the music scene in 2005/06 with songs from their Three Dreads and a Baldhead album. No one was still; even the fluorescent green -clad bartenders were pouring the rum and swaying.
Known for their versatility, the band moved from slow to fast tunes without taking a water break. (What are you drinking Kes?). At one point, when I thought it was all over, Kes broke out into a Krosfyah medley that in spite of the humidity sent chills up my spine. Not only can they perform, but they also bring some soulful spice to every rendition, making it their own and then some. Armed with multiple international hit songs, sold out shows across the Caribbean, Europe and North America, Grammy award winner collaborations and a BET Soul Train Music Award Nomination under their belt, there is no limit for this dynamic quartet.
So what’s next for Kes the Band? Who knows, could there be a Grammy nomination in the future? One thing is for certain, the band will be back in SoFlo. And, if you don’t want to be at home kicking yourself and reading my next article, make sure you reach Miami to check out events from Foam Wet Fete on 14 October 2019, Mask Annual Halloween on 26 October 2019, or Flower Bomb Day Soiree on 17 November 2019. See socanews.com for more information.